KEEPSAKE: JCA reveals 2019 Christmas ornament

Published 3:00 am Friday, September 20, 2019

The Johnson Center for the Arts proudly announces the 2019 edition of its keepsake ornament collection by Troy artist Ruth Walker.

“The JCS is extremely honored that Ruth has chosen the 1881 Pike County Courthouse for this year’s keepsake ornament,” said Wiley White, JCA exhibitions coordinator. “The ‘old’ courthouse was a proud and stately structure and served Pike County well until the early 1950s.”

The keepsake ornaments are the third in the series of porcelain ornaments that depict Troy’s historic structures, designed and created by Ruth Walker.

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The first ornament in the collection was Troy’s Post Office circa 1910 in 2017 followed in 2018 by the Old Presbyterian Church circa 1887.

Walker said she chose the Pike County Courthouse for the third ornament for several reasons, including a very personal one.

“The old Pike County Courthouse was torn down in 1953 so there are those among us who remember it standing there in the middle of downtown Troy,” Walker said. “And, old photographs and newspaper articles have made it familiar to many people today. The old Pike County Courthouse was a part of Troy’s scene for more than 60 years so it deserved to be included in the series.”

Walker’s said a personal experience related to the Pike County Courthouse has engrained a strong memory of the proud old structure in her mind.

“When I was a young child, I was witness to a crime,” she said. “My parents and I were going to a church function way out in the country. Suddenly, a woman appeared running and carrying a small child in her arms and there was someone running behind her.”
Being a child, Walker didn’t know or understand what crime had been committed but she was a witness to the incident so she was called as such.

“But being a child, I was never called to the witness stand,” Walker said. “But I received $2.50 as a witness fee and I was so proud and excited to have that much money.”

The witness fee aside, Walker said she was in awe of being there in the huge courthouse.

“That was an exciting experience for a nine-year-old country girl,” she said. “That experience is forever engrained in my mind.”

The 1881 Pike County Courthouse has been a favorite subject for Walker’s artwork. Her pen-and-ink drawing of the courthouse is the image she used to create the historic keepsake ornament for the Johnson Center for the Arts.

“I had thought the pen and ink drawing could be used for the ornament but ink does not leave a sharp line, so the image had to be computer generated,” Walker said. “The drawing of the old courthouse had to be produced, line by line. And every line had to be exact so the image would be sharp.”

Walker said the porcelain ornaments are small so fine, sharp lines are necessary for the image details to be crisp.

Walker has experience as a graphic designer so designing and creating the JCA historic ornaments is a joyful experience.

“I have a great appreciation for history and a love of art,” she said. “The ornaments are a way to preserve our city’s physical past. I’m honored to be asked to design the ornaments and I’m looking forward to doing the next one.”

Walker is a versatile artist who can paint anything and everything but, if she had so say, she would say painting old homeplaces is probably the nearest and dearest to her heart.”